Monday, October 1, 2012

Sir James Aikins (1851 - 1929)
4th Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba

Postal covers are historical artifacts which can help us explore and understand the past. That is why I collect them. Today's cover takes us to early 20th century Manitoba and to the oceanside resort of Kennebunk Beach, Maine.

The cover was sent from Government House, Winnipeg to Lady Aikins, Atlantis Hotel,  Kennebunk Beach, Maine and postmarked July 26, 1917.

Government House

Government House, located on the grounds of the Legislative Building, in downtown Winnipeg, is the residence of the Manitoba Lieutenant-Governor.

Government House (52683 bytes)

Built by the Dominion government in 1883, the building was transferred to Manitoba in 1885 to be used as a residence for the Lieutenant-Governor and for no other purpose.

 Sir James Aikens

James Aikens was the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba when the letter was mailed. He was a lawyer and politician who served as Manitoba's 4th Lieutenant-Governor from 1916 to 1926.

Sir James Aikins 1923
National Gallery of Canada

The following information about John Aikins was found on the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba's  web site :
  • Son of James Cox Aikins, Manitoba's 4th Lieutenant- Governor.
  • Educated at Upper Canada College and University of Toronto.
  • Called to the Ontario bar in 1878 but chose to relocate in Winnipeg the following year; called to the Manitoba bar 1879.
  • Counsel for Department of Justice 1879-96.
  • Counsel for Province of Manitoba 1900, aided in the drafting of the Manitoba Liquor Act.
  • First president of the Canadian Bar Association 1914-29 and President of the Manitoba Bar Association.
  • Director of Manitoba Agricultural College.
  • Elected as Conservative MP for Brandon 1911 but resigned to lead the provincial Conservative party in the election of 1915 when his party was defeated.
  • Widely credited as a brilliant and witty speaker, he was also said to be one of the province's finest marksmen.
  • Knighted in 1914. 
Aikens was a respected figure in Manitoba . At Aikins' state funeral , Archbishop Matheson said that John Aikins would be remembered as
 “a great and brilliant member of the legal profession, a magnetic and eloquent public speaker, a great legislator, a great educationalist, a great philanthropist, and above all, a great Canadian citizen.” Source : Biographical Dictionary of Canada

Lady Aikins

The Manitoba Historical Society provides the following information concerning  Mary French Colby Aikins on its website:
Born at Stanstead, Quebec on 25 October 1862, daughter of William B. Colby and Malvina Wallingford, she was educated at Stanstead Wesleyan College. She came to Manitoba in 1887 with her widowed mother and took a position teaching modern and classical languages at Lansdowne College in Portage la Prairie. She later attended the Central Normal School at Winnipeg, after which she worked as a clerk in the Department of Education until her marriage.
On 6 September 1899, she married J.A.M. Aikins at Stanstead, Quebec. They had two daughters: Helen Aikins (wife of F.J. Ney)  and Elizabeth Aikins (wife of Ronald Ney). She was the first President of the Young Women’s Christian Association of Winnipeg. She was also a member of the Women’s Canadian Club of Winnipeg, the Daughters of the Empire, and the Methodist church. Her recreations included golf and tennis.

 She died at Winnipeg on 9 February 1931.

Atlantis Hotel, Kennebunk Beach

Post card not in author's collection

The Atlantis Hotel, built in resort community of Kennebunk Beach, Maine in 1903, occupied a leading position among Maine's oceanside hotels until its demolition in 1967.